An animated fantasy-comedy called Becoming Red beautifully depicts the beauty of flaws. In the social media era, the majority of people spend their lives trying to win over others. But, everyone has a cutely flawed side that just wants to give and receive hugs, like a panda, no matter how perfect one may seem on the outside. While others may find this aspect of themselves odd, everyone has one, and one should be proud of it.
Changing Red, which is set in 2002, transports viewers to a simpler (but still modern) era where they can experience the world as an innocent middle-schooler might. The movie is a great feel-good watch because it will make anyone who is too hard on themselves feel like they are getting a gigantic bear hug!
Turning Red Plot Summary: Meet Meilin Lee
Geeky 13-year-old Hong Kong Canadian Meilin Lee lives in Canada. She routinely assists her mother with upkeep at one of Toronto’s oldest temples, which is run by her family. Meilin is from a traditional, matriarchal family that is headed by her domineering perfectionist mother Ming and her cool, collected father Jin. Meilin works extremely hard to get her mother’s approval, whether it is by getting all As in her classes, being an expert at the flute, or dominating extracurricular activities. Only her friends Miriam, Priya, and Abby are aware of the true Meilin beneath the mask of an overachiever! They are aware of her humour, awkwardness, and mischievous nature. She enjoys creating a good first impression on guys and is such an ardent admirer of the pop group 4-Town that she gave her stopwatch the name Robaire Jr. (named after 4-Town singer Robaire).
Meilin begins drawing sensual sketches of Devon, the adorable convenience store clerk, in her notebook as she works on her math homework one day. Ming walks into her room and is horrified to discover all of her sketches. She shows Devon her designs and storms out to the convenience store with Meilin, telling him to stay away from her kid. When all the children in the supermarket begin laughing at Meilin, her face turns red with humiliation. She awakes after a terrifying nightmare, hoping for some solace. She still sees herself in the mirror as a huge red panda, so her nightmare is far from finished!
Warning: Huge Spoilers
What Is The Legend Of Sun Yee And The Red Panda?
Meilin hides in the restroom since she doesn’t know how to handle this scenario. Ming and Jin assume that she has had her first menstruation after hearing her sob loudly. She exhales a breath of relief, but then transforms back into a human (but with red hair). She understands that being overly excited will cause her to revert to her red panda form. She must remain composed in order to keep her human appearance. Meilin wears a beanie cap over her head to conceal her red hair from her mother and attends school while attempting to maintain her composure. She cracks laughing and transforms back into a panda, though, when her mother returns to her school to give her sanitary napkins. Ming pursues her daughter home as she transforms into a big panda. Meilin is informed by Ming and Jin that Sun Yee’s ancestors have a genetic predisposition to turning into a red panda.
The Lee family’s temple’s most revered ancestor is Sun Yee. She was a talented poet, scholar, and animal advocate. Sun Yee’s most prized pet was the red panda, who was adorable, independent, and naughty. Sun Yee was concerned for her girls’ safety as the males left to fight in the war. She was blessed with the ability to transform into a huge red panda to frighten predators and defend her daughters one day. This blessing was given to Sun Yee by her daughters, who then passed it on to further generations. For the daughters of Sun Yee’s ancestry, the blessing eventually became an annoyance as the years and generations passed. Sun Yee’s miracle detects trouble and transforms each of them into a massive red panda whenever one of them encounters an agitating circumstance. Meilin is reassured by Ming that she can break the curse just as she did. On May 25, the night of the red moon, the family members must perform a ceremony in order to accomplish this.
Turning Red Ending Explained: The Ritual Of The Red Moon
Meilin is concerned about the panda issue and there is still a month before the rite. When Miriam, Priya, and Abby eventually visit her, they learn about her inherited talent. They comfort Meilin that she need not be concerned and that they will stand by her side no matter what. Meilin feels tranquil as her companions console her and assumes her human form. She employs the relaxing mechanism of remembering her pals to return to her human form in a public setting. She gains the courage to go to school and perhaps the 4-Town concert after finding a short-term solution to her issue. Meilin’s parents perform a trigger test on her, showing her a few upsetting images followed by a box of cuddly kittens. Meilin skillfully keeps her cool and reassures her parents in every circumstance. Ming permits her to attend school, but forbids her from attending the concert.
Her pals do not have permission to attend the concert, just like Meilin does. The four buddies are attempting to accept the reality when Meilin unexpectedly transforms into a panda and is caught by a few little children. To her astonishment, the children are eager to see the panda since they think it is so adorable and fluffy. The four buddies come up with a scheme to raise money for the 4-Town event in response to this. In order to make money, they set up a red panda picture booth with fun panda goods. The red panda quickly becomes the talk of the school. Meilin chooses to dress up as a panda for Tyler’s birthday in exchange for $200 in order to raise money for one last ticket. Meilin, however, is trapped living with her aunts and her grandmother, who has come to see them just in time for the party. Meilin escapes her house, but she hesitates when her grandma cautions her about the dangers of overusing the panda.
She nonetheless chooses to complete the form one further time and earn the cash necessary for their final trip. The four buddies are shocked to learn that the concert is actually taking place on March 25, not March 18, the day of the ritual. Disappointed, Meilin engages in an argument with Tyler and is interrupted by her mother. Meilin struggles to tell the truth out of fear of losing her mother’s approval, while Ming accuses her friends of having an influence on her daughter. Meilin’s friends are therefore disappointed with her.
Finally, the ritual day comes, and Mr. Gao, the neighbourhood shaman, forms a sacred circle around Meilin. The Lee family sings together as they try to connect her with Sun Yee. To everyone’s amazement, Meilin makes the defiant decision to leave the concert with her panda. Ming, who is furious at Meilin’s behaviour, transforms into a huge panda that is much larger than Meilin’s. Meilin learns that she is becoming more adept at controlling the panda as she makes her way to the event. She finds the concert and finds her buddies again. Ming arrives at the concert dressed as a destructive monster right as she is going to shake hands with Robaire. Meilin gets stirred up and transforms into a panda when Ming screams at her for acting inappropriately, creating an odd mother-daughter animal conflict. After a string of incredibly upsetting incidents, her grandma and aunts transform into pandas and perform the ritual on Ming.
Meilin is transported into Sun Yee’s world when the chanting starts, where she encounters an adolescent Ming who is in tears. Ming acknowledges that she had always strived to please her mother. Her fixation with perfection also showed in the way she raised her children. Meilin comforts Ming by telling her that she is loved even if she is not perfect. The two travel to Grandmother and the aunts, where everyone but Meilin is exorcised of their panda soul. Sun Yee is ecstatic upon learning that Meilin has decided to keep the panda and embraces her in a way that a cuddly panda would! Save for Meilin’s panda shape, which everyone is now aware of, everything is back to normal in everyone’s lives. Yet now that Meilin is an adult (just as she always desired to be), she respects her individual decisions without reservation!
A red panda is a representation of security, nonconformity, and balance. In spite of being a parent-pleaser like the majority of the Lee family’s daughters, Meilin gradually comes to appreciate her individuality. As she realises how much her classmates adore her, she no longer feels the need to meet their false expectations. She takes the chance to independently raise funds for the band and defends herself if she is the target of bullying. Meilin eventually discovers how to balance her two forms by visualising her happy spot. Meilin thus shares many characteristics with a red panda. She is also sweet and sassy, exactly like the creature Sun Yee adored so much!
Meilin decides to keep her panda because, unlike Ming and the other women who detested it, she comes to accept it as a part of herself. Meilin’s persona exhorts others to embrace their uniqueness without apology! You never know how much other people will enjoy it, after all!
The parenting approach that differs from Western parenting in Asian households is expertly captured in Becoming Red. The movie’s depictions of the fixation with grades, chatty aunts, parent-pleasing, etc. are accurate and entertaining (something Asian kids can relate to, too). All things considered, the movie is likeable, odd, and strongly advised.
Domee Shi is the director of the animated comedy Changing Red from 2022.